Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

I watched this film a couple of nights ago and to my pleasant surprise, it was better than I expected! I had to watch it twice so that I could actually write about it.

Quick Flavour!
'Cloudy...' (I'm calling the film 'Cloudy' from here on because it's a long name to write over and over!!) is a 2009 american computer-animated film by Sony Pictures Animation. It's about a man named Flint Lockwood who from a young age dreamed of being an inventor. He has had a number of failed inventions and a difficult relationship with his father who does not understand him. Flint finally succeeds in inventing a machine that can turn water into food. However, the machine starts to malfunction due to the stress of requests from the mayor and townsfolk and Flint must decide between acceptance or shutting off the machine.

I really enjoyed this film! It was based on a children's book with the same name and apparently made to be a homage to and a parody of disaster films such as Twister. Cloudy certainly felt like a classic disaster film! I actually found it pretty funny too! The jokes and funny moments were great and were used appropriately throughout the film, which allowed serious moments to be serious (unlike a certain film I bashed a while ago).

The visual style is unique and really interesting. The eyes are especially interesting because the whole eye and iris as well as the pupil enlarge, creating some extreme emotional (and sometimes borderline freaky) expressions. Some of the characters, such as Flint, are fairly 'lanky' for lack of a better word, meaning they have particularly long and thin bodies/limbs (for example, the Malcolm rig I've been using is 'lanky' because he has a long, thin body, particularly his legs). Tim, Flint's father, has an oblong silhouette with very short legs and long arms. I think this shape really works for him because it seems to give him a stiff demeanour. The way he is animated (possible with some limitations because of his short legs, can't really tell) is quite subtle which adds to his personality and awkwardness when trying to express something meaningful to his son. Swallow Falls started off being a grey place, literally. The environments were grey and unsaturated reflecting the town's economic difficulties and as a result lack of variation, in food particularly. After Flint's machine starts to work, colours (first appearing in the form of aurora borealis/northern lights) started to work their way into the town. The scenes become vivid and exciting as food becomes more varied.

The animation also has a different style to other films. The character animation has more snappy and 'toony' elements, particularly when the characters are excited/enthusiastic. I did notice some parts where a character was or seemed 'dead', as in not moving AT ALL. Two scenes come to mind. First was in the opening sequence where Flint was being comforted by his mother, just after he receives the lab coat and says it's a perfect fit he stands with his arms out looking at his mother. For a second or two he is completely stuck in that pose, I couldn't register any movement at all which made him look very weird. Second is the scene where Sam comes into Flint's lab for the first time, he has just distracted her while he built a button to communicate commands to the machine. As he's bringing it to the computer she's staring at something to the left off screen for an unnaturally long time, she does not move an inch until she reacts to Flint's comment about how it (the button) will probably explode. Other than the odd moments such as these, I really like the animation style. I think it really suits the film. One of my favourite parts are the scenes where Flint's announcing what he is doing, which he does on a few occasions:

The story is excellent. I can imagine that many a child enjoyed the original book and were inspired by it because GIANT FOOD! I'd love to see giant food! The portrayal of relationships was fantastic and clear, every relationship was easy to understand. The biggest theme in this story is acceptance, in my opinion. Flint and Sam were both working for acceptance. Flint embraced his difference and wanted other people to see it by creating something everyone loved, particularly his father. Sam, on the other hand, pushed her true self away and didn't want people to see it, trying to be accepted as someone 'normal'. The moral of the story is to be true to yourself, accept yourself because the people who matter already do. A pretty sweet sentiment.

Special shout out to one of my favourite characters; Officer Earl! Not only is he funny, his animation is crazy!

What I'm going to take from this movie is to experiment with different styles of animation. This film has more of a 'toony' element to it which some other computer-animated films don't have much of anymore. Granted, a lot of 'toony' moments but not so much all the way through the film like Cloudy..
Actually, for the mime animation, I put forward the idea of adding some 'toon physics' to one of our ideas, to enhance the humour a bit. More on that later!

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